Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has proved to be an endurance test for human and social rights, democratic values, the rule of law and economic resilience in the EU. While navigating stormy waters, organised civil society is playing a key role in coping with the countless pandemic-related challenges at European, national, regional and local level.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) played a central role in bringing the consensual views of organised civil society in the EU to the attention of policy-makers and contributing to the rapidly evolving economic policy response at European level.
In this regard, we believe that now is the time for the EU institutions to make decisive steps in approving swiftly the new Facility and putting in place the necessary implementation mechanisms at European and national level, so that the hardest hit Member States, citizens and businesses can benefit from the relevant EU funding when they need it most.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) organised a public hearing on "The rule of law and its impact on economic growth" on Tuesday, 8 September 2020, from 2:30 p.m.
The event brought together a wide range of civil society organisations to discuss the economic importance of the rule of law and other fundamendal values of the EU, based on the findings and recommendations of an EESC own-initiative opinion.
At a time when citizens are demanding broader involvement in shaping European policies, the EESC Civil Society Days are intended to be a public forum to connect European citizens, civil society organisations and European institutions for a debate about the defining task of our times and the most pressing challenge for Europe, namely "keeping our planet and people healthy". In other words, putting the European economy and society as well as the planet on a more sustainable path.
The public hearing on "Towards a more resilient and sustainable European economy with a vision for completing EMU" to be held on Friday, 12 April 2019, starting at 11.30 a.m., will discuss from a wider civil society perspective the future of the European economy and the political initiatives and decisions that need to be taken during the upcoming legislative term and beyond. Taking into account the conclusions of the debate, the EESC will draw up two own-initiative opinions, entitled "Towards a more resilient and sustainable European economy" and "A new vision for completing the Economic and Monetary Union", to be forwarded to the new European Parliament and European Commission.
The Civil Society Days 2019 will take place at a crucial moment for Europe, namely after the Sibiu Summit and the European elections and ahead of the constitution of the new European Parliament and European Commission.
Current pressures on our democratic systems are threatening fundamental values (respect for human rights, individual liberty, equality, the rule of law) and the civil society space within the European Union. The alarming consequence is an erosion of democracy and restricted civic space in several parts of the EU.
Against this backdrop and in consideration of the transformation processes the EU is facing, namely on economic, energy and ecological, social, and democratic and participatory level, this year's Civil Society Days will focus on two main pillars, Democracy and Sustainability, and will explore their links and interactions.
This year's Civil Society Days will take place right after the plenary session at which the European Economic and Social Committee celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The focus of this Civil Society Days will be on fostering the current debate about the future of Europe and on highlighting the role across Europe of the civil society organisations which come together in the EESC to represent "Europe at work".
In line with this twofold emphasis, the CivSocDays 2018 will address Europe at work in relation to a dimension which has permeated our everyday working and living environment and will affect and shape our future, as well as the future of Europe: the digital world.
Conclusions from the EESC events in the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe
Volunteering happens when volunteer energy (willingness, capability and availability to volunteer) and volunteer opportunities (possibility to volunteer) are matched. The objective of this study is to create classifications of volunteer energy and volunteer opportunities, providing a qualitative overview of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) that volunteering is facing in the EU.
For the current mandate (October 2020 to April 2023) of the Civil Society Organisations’ Group (Group III), it has been decided to concentrate on the topic of poverty and on the role of civil society organisations and citizens' initiatives in combating it. The objective of the work programme of Group III for this period is to contribute to making local communities more sustainable, resilient, equitable, productive and socially just, whilst also upholding the highest levels of democratic governance, respect for rights and the rule of law.